On Tuesday, Governor Kevin Stitt (R) appointed M. John Kane IV to the Oklahoma Supreme Court. Kane replaced former Justice John Reif, who retired on April 30, 2019. Kane is Stitt’s first nominee to the nine-member supreme court; the governor was first elected in November 2018.
Prior to this new appointment, Kane served as the Office 1 judge of the 10th District Court in Osage County, Oklahoma. He was appointed to that position in 2005. Before that, Kane worked in his family’s law firm, Kane, Kane & Kane Law Offices, P.C., from 1987 to 2005. He was also an administrative law judge from 1999 to 2005 and an assistant district attorney from 1987 to 1989. Kane received a B.S. in agricultural economics and accounting from Oklahoma State University in 1984 and a J.D. from the University of Oklahoma College of Law in 1987.
Including Kane, three of the sitting Oklahoma Supreme Court justices were appointed by Republican governors. Five members were appointed by Democratic governors, and the remaining seat is vacant and will be the second seat that Stitt fills by appointment.
In 2019, there have been 18 supreme court vacancies across 12 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. Of those 18 vacancies, 12 are in states where a Republican governor appoints the replacement. Five vacancies occurred in a state where a Democratic governor fills vacancies, while the last vacancy occurred in a state where a Republican-controlled legislature appoints replacements.